Brig. Gen. Clarence K.K. Chinn relinquished command of JRTC and Fort Polk to Brig. Gen. William B. Hickman on Nov. 15.
Brig. Gen. Clarence K.K. Chinn relinquished command of JRTC and Fort Polk to Brig. Gen. William B. Hickman on Nov. 15. Hickman and his wife,Mayme, arrived this week, and have been meeting local officials in Leesville and surrounding communities. Hickman graduated from Vanderbilt University, and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army in 1983. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration and a Master of Business Administration degree from Vanderbilt, and a Master's Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College. His most recent key staff assignment was as the Military Assistant to the Commander, International Security Assistance Force, Afghanistan. "It is a great honor to be here," said Hickman. He said Fort Polk was the premier training center in the U.S., and he as excited to come here. Hickman's goals are to continue preparing combat teams for deployment, focus on Fort Polk's relationships with surrounding communities, leader development, and reaching out to military retirees to maintain a connection. Hickman said there will be 10 rotations at Fort Polk next year, with continued training for deployment to Afghanistan. "Fort Polk has changed the last five years with new construction going on for training and for families," said Hickman. "This is a testament to our relationship with local community leaders. K.K. has been a phenomenal officer, and last year adapted training training to meet the threat in Afghanistan." Chinn and Hickman joined Col. Marc D. Axelberg in a Jeep to inspect troops during the ceremony. Gen. David M. Rodriguez, Commanding General, U.S. Army Forces Command, also spoke to the large crowd gathered. "The people of Louisiana have always been gracious," said Rodriguez, "and the Army appreciates all you do for our soldiers and their families." Rodriguez said Chinn was a tremendous trainer, and would be working with soldiers he has trained in Afghanistan soon. He said Hickman was a proven leader, immensely capable and qualified to lead Fort Polk. "Today we turn a page in history of this great installation," said Rodriguez, "and start a new chapter." Chinn said he and his wife, Val, would miss Fort Polk and all the friends they have made, but it was time to go. "Serving here at the Home of Heroes has been humbling and an honor," said Chinn. He thanked the soldiers, their families, and especially the spouses for all the support. "This is the gold standard for the Army, and it isn't like that everywhere," said Chinn. "You care about our soldiers and their families. Thanks for allowing me to lead you. I am proud to hand the colors over to Brig. Gen. Hickman. And following Army tradition, we won't say goodbye." Hickman said what is special about Fort Polk is the connection to surrounding communities, and he looks forward to continuing those relationships.